The pictures aren't real good so I'm not sure how good of a critique you can give me. My 6 year old took them with my cell phone. I'll try to get better ones but I was just wondering how we are coming along? Also... scream about my eq please....
I thought my legs had shifted too far forward. OK, bring them back. Do my reins need to be even looser. I know we are still not there, but we are much closer than last summer. It's taking a really long but I'm not really willing to go to extreme measures to get there so... we are going at "our" pace.
PS - I just dropped the snaffle and draw reins about 2 weeks ago. I'm hoping to drop the training fork soon.
I think your EQ in the third picture looks pretty good. Its hard to judge without video because your body is going to shift a good bit when trying to urge on a nice long and low lope. Love him though! Looks like he will be a great lil loper!
I would drop the training fork now. When the back comes up and lifts, the hind legs come under to carry you, and the head comes down. Simple bio mechanics. The horse slows down, the lope is soft and light.
When you pull the head down, or 'suggest' it to be down, it's not cruel or mean or anything. You just are ignoring the back. Which is the key to a good lope. Letting his head come up (like when you make transitions) tells you is muscles aren't ready--not that he's being a snot. Then you can fix it from there.
You need to rotate forward and stop sitting on your pockets if you want a true, winning 'western EQ'. You want to feel your seat bones AND your pubic bone equally--three points. Then, I would rather have you push down from your thigh, and have the inside of your thigh on the saddle--THIS is what puts your leg in the right position. Nothing else. Then it will be easy for the heels to come down. :)
If you're doing EQ then your free hand should be a 'fist'. If you're doing pleasure, you can let it hang. ;)
Edited to add:
Went back to look at the pictures, and sometimes I put both hands on the reins, and then slowly let the other one fall to my side. This keeps your shoulders even--the pictures are kind of hard to tell, but it looks like your right shoulder is further forward then your left. Does your horse have more trouble loping to the left? :P
I notice that I ride kind of crooked in the shoulder, I'm not sure why I do that. He does have a harder time going... uh...left I think. Now that I'm thinking about it I'm not sure. There is one direction that is harder than the other. Sitting on my pockets, is that what is making my lower back sore? I do want to be a true western eq person. I think my big focus is going to be on trail and on eq. My lope is finally getting to where I can hold it together for a couple laps around the ring, but I'm still "sloppy". Ok, I'll drop the training fork and then I'll try to get Max to take a video of me next time. It will be a 6 year olds video but maybe he can handle it....
I think he did a good job, you're pretty much center. Better then my 50 year old mother at horse shows--I'm lucky if she gets the right horse and rider. ;)
Your shoulder will rotate forward because the one had is in front and the other hangs back. It's hard to keep them square--everyone does it.
Sitting on your lower back may make your back sore... it takes the bend out of the spine, and the bend is what keeps your back like a 'spring'.
If he's sloppy, he's saying, 'mum, I don't have muscle for this yet'. Push him forwards until the lope feels comfortable and not hard to keep together, and then do lots of transitions, lope-to-trot (not jog). When he changes, let him drop from the lope to a nice, forward going trot. You don't want him to slam on the brakes, you want him loping, and then IMMEDIATE ground-covering trot. When you start doing this in quick succession and he's not nervous, (four strides canter, four strides trot, four strides canter, etc. etc.) you'll feel him lift his back. And you'll watch him drop his neck. :) Forward means calm and ground covering though--not fast, nervous, or choppy.
If you want, you can do this in english tack so that he can build the muscles, but not associate 'fast and forward' with western stuff. When he can do these things comfortably, I'd even introduce lateral work. Then put him in your western tack, and ask him for something slow, but with energy. You'll be surprised how he'll keep it together when you prepare his muscles to do so. ;)
With the forward/lateral work, you'll also see his hind end get round, and less angular. Correct work= correct muscles.
Here's a decent picture of my gelding showing a nice, forward trot, reaching into the bit and working those muscles he'll later be using for WP-
This is what happens when you don't have enough coffee--you post the wrong picture. Oi! I lost the one I WANTED to use, but here's a cute one. The same horse, much more in shape, later loping. If he bends his back just a tad more that head will be right where I want it, and he won't look crippled--the three beat, TRUE lope will be there. It will just be slow. :)